About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Restaurant AG Les Halles -- Restaurant Review


14 Rue Mondétour, 75001
Phone: 01 42 61 37 17
Metro: Les Halles ( 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14)
Closed Sundays


Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-80); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-90); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (90+)

4.50- Star......................................................€€......................................................... 2 - Bell


If the restaurant name sounds familiar, well it is. This is actually the 2nd restaurant of Chef Alan Geaam.  The original "AG" restaurant is in the 6eme.  When the first "AG" opened in the 6eme, I was absolutely in love with it. Unfortunately, it became inconsistent with both the food and the service and became overrun by tourists, so I stopped going. So, we decided to come to the "other" restaurant in Les Halles and test the waters, so to speak.


The interior of the restaurant couldn't be any more different than the other restaurant. By Parisian standards, it's quite large. Very roomy and very "airy". And, what caught my eye was the very large bar, which serves "cocktails".  I'm finding more and more "cocktail bars" in larger Parisian restaurants. We were given an English menu, but my friend asked for a French menu. I compared the translation, and it was close, but still a little off. Normally, I prefer French menus for this reason. As an aside at another restaurant, I remember once "breast of duck" was erroneously translated to "breath of duck".


We were given some sweet rolls that appeared to have been slightly smoked over hay. The rolls tasted almost as if they were steamed, because they were very, very moist.  It  was accompanied with several spices and flavored oils, since on its own the rolls were un-flavored, with the accompanying spices and oils, it was a nice introduction to what might follow. 


For our amuse bouche we had a very tasty smoked duck broth that was foamed. Despite the the size, it was punched with a lot of flavor, and I must say surprisingly very light. 

Accompanying it was some rice wafers with hazelnuts. 

Overall, an excellent composed amuse bouche!







ENTRÉES



Chicken oysters with seasonal mushrooms, chestnut and coffee. What an interesting entrée with the different flavor profiles. Yet combined, it was a scrumptious entrée. It is reputed that the oyster part of the chicken is the most flavorful. And, this was a great example of profiling the flavor of the chicken oysters. Americans usually use coffee to enhance steak seasoning, BBQs or chili, but the coffee was slightly incorporated in the chicken to enhance the flavor, but not overwhelm it. Another excellent well composed dish.


Duck foie gras with bonito broth and granny smith poutarge (salted fish roe).  At first glance, you think, what a weird flavor combination. But I have to say, after tasting it, I became a believer.  Mixing brininess of the bonito and fish roe brought this dish to a whole new level. Who knew?  The foie gras itself, was cooked to perfection. And, although you would think the broth and roe would be overwhelming, not at all, it complimented the dish well.




63C egg with pumpkin, black truffle and hazelnut.  All the entrées were delicious, but this had to be my favorite. I was expecting this dish to be somewhat bland, since in essence, pumpkin doesn't have a strong characteristic flavor and many cooks have to add spices to give some character. As you cut into the soft luscious eggs and blended it with the pumpkin, it was a pure delight sensation in the mouth. I normally don't like truffles, but the truffles along with the hazelnuts were simply delicious, and the coddled egg made the dish. However, I wasn't fond of the kumquats used to garnish the dish, but that's a personal preference.


PLATS

Hake fillet, black rice telline (shell fish) spinach and pickles.  When it was first presented, my first impression was, wow, what a beautifully composed dish. The picture doesn't do it justice, but the purples, with the greens and black, just made the dish pop.  The fish was perfectly cooked with a nice exterior crust and the rice was wonderfully flavored. The purple broccoli wasn't overcooked, it still retained a nice crunch. Overall, an excellent delicious dish.





Pig jowls with butternut, kumquat and spaghetti of fried potatoes. All the dishes previously presented were beautiful, and well composed. This particular plating, I thought was odd. Some friends thought it artistic, but I thought there was just too much empty real estate, sort of "lop-sided".

Reputed to be the most flavorful part of the pig, jowls was the main attraction of this dish. And, they did not disappoint. Despite the weird plating, I thought the meat was delicious, very flavorful. There were chunks of fat, which is to be expected, but it was the fat that kept the meat moist. Although tasty, the shoe string fried onion rings was a bit odd for me, because they were really, really long strands. But overall, it was an excellent, flavorful dish.

DESSERTS

We decided to order a cheese plate to be shared amongst the 4 of us. They had quite the selection of cheeses. We opted for 2-blue cheeses, one comte and a brie. As I always say, you can't go wrong with cheese in France.








For our wine, we had "Thierry Germain dom roche neuve l'insolite blanc saumur" from the Loire valley. It's reported to be one of the best 10 wines in the region.  Although I did like the wine, I found it very crisp with sour notes. Good, but not one of my favs.














SUMMARY

Since I've been to Chef Geaam's restaurant in the 6eme, I was expecting the plating to be wonderful, with the exception of one of the main dishes, he did not disappoint, overall the food was beautifully presented. What's more important are the flavors. All the dishes were excellent. Combinations that you would not normally think would compliment each other did, e.g., bonita broth with foie gras. My favorite entrée was the pumpkin with the black truffles. And, as far as flavors were concerned, the pork was my favorite plat. This is the type of cuisine I remembered the AG in the 6eme served when it first opened up. The service was excellent as well. Would I return"? MOST DEFINITELY.

With 4-entrées, 4-plats, a bottle of wine, 3-glasses of additional wine, and a cheese plate, our meal came to 189€ or 47.25€ a person, which is extremely reasonable. We were also provided with a digestif, which tasted like vodka with a little flavoring.




The talented Chef de cuisine and published cookbook author, Alan Geaam


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